The Conservation Fund provides financial support for innovative electricity conservation technologies, practices, research, and programs that will help Ontario reach its long-term energy conservation goals.
Wild about cool new technology
The Toronto Zoo’s conservation efforts include educating people to be sustainable and to reduce their energy use
The Ice Bear isn't some new species - it’s the zoo’s cooling technology designed to help reduce the daytime electrical load of rooftop air conditioning units
The Toronto Zoo’s wildly popular 10-acre Tundra Trek features polar bears, arctic wolves, arctic foxes, reindeer, snowy owls and Ice Bears. But an Ice Bear is not some new species - it’s a cooling technology designed to help reduce the daytime electrical load of rooftop air conditioning units.
About the Project
Made by a company named Ice Energy, the Ice Bear attaches to a building’s rooftop air conditioning unit and works much like a battery does, only this battery is made of ice. It makes ice at night, when electricity demand is low, and uses that ice during the day, when demand is higher, to deliver cooling directly to the building’s air conditioning system.
In 2009, Toronto Hydro applied to the Conservation Fund to help them test the technology in a variety of small commercial locations across the Greater Toronto Area. By the end of summer 2010, they had deployed 10 Ice Bears at eight sites – including three at the Caribou Café at the Toronto Zoo.
"We think, if we had rooftop solar units for day and at night had the Ice Bears use the stored solar power to charge the air conditioning, we might be able to come completely off the grid," says Bill Rapley, Executive Director of Conservation, Education and Wildlife at the Toronto Zoo. "We have a lot of rooftops, so it’s worth exploring."
The cost of installing an Ice Bear on a regular rooftop unit is high and may not be viable for all consumers. Those who move forward with the installation gain some energy savings and the satisfaction of knowing they are helping to reduce peak demand in the province. As the range between on- and off-peak electricity prices grows, the business case to support investment in Ice Bear improves substantially.